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Google Goes High-End With Pixelbook Chromebook

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Google unveils its Chrome-based answer for those seeking a high-end folding laptop

Google has unveiled the Google Pixelbook, a high performance Chromebook that seeks to combine the best parts of a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone.

The device seeks, pretty much like Microsoft’s Surface Pro and SurfaceBook, to satisfy those for a seeking a more portable mobile computing solution than has been previously allowed by traditional laptops.

Meanwhile Google has also introduced two additions to its Google Home family (Home Mini and Home Max), alongside the launch this week of its next-generation Pixel handsets (Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL).

Pixelbook 1

 

Google Pixelbook

There should be no doubt that the brand new folding Pixelbook is a high-end Chromebook device. Prices start at the $999 mark, and the Pixelbook Pen costs $99.

Both are available on pre order and will be on sale at the Google Store and retailers such as Best Buy, in the US, Canada and the UK when officially released.

So what does those prices get you? Well Google is touting the fact that the Pixelbook seeks to combine the best parts of a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, bundled with the Chrome OS; Google Assistant; and all the usual apps on Google Play.

Indeed, Google claims that the Pixelbook is the thinnest, lightest laptop it has ever made, with a 10.3mm thin aluminium body that weights 1.1 kilograms.

The device is foldable thanks to 360 degree hinges and boasts a 4-in-1 design, so it can be used in different modes.

For example it can be used as a traditional laptop, or the keyboard can be folded underneath so it can be used to watch a movie or TV show, or indeed read a book. This tablet mode also allows the user to take notes.

Meanwhile a tent mode make it ideal for when a user wishes to follow a recipe in the kitchen.

The Pixelbook boasts a 12.3-inch high-resolution touchscreen display that is said to deliver enough brightness to use outside, even on a sunny day. The thin keyboard comes with soft-touch keys and a backlit design, and the trackpad apparently “uses new, special touch-processing algorithms to make sure you can navigate with accuracy.”

Under the hood lurks either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, as well as either 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Solid state drives (SSDs) are either 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB.

Google says the Pixelbook’s battery lasts up to 10 hours and when has rapid charging, as just 15 minutes of charging gets up to two hours of runtime. The Pixelbook charger will also work with the the Pixel phone, which means one less thing to carry around.

And of course, the Pixelbook also comes with the Google Pixelbook Pen, which is described as “a smart, responsive stylus which gives you a natural and comfortable feel” when sketching and writing.

This Pixelbook Pen uses machine learning for handwriting recognition, and latency has been reduced to just 10 milliseconds. Google also says it has 60 degrees of angular awareness and 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, “so it’s fast and responsive and naturally follows your hand movements.”

And lets not forget the Pixelbook is the first laptop with the Google Assistant built in. This allows the user to say “Ok Google” or press the dedicated Assistant key, and the user can then talk or type to find answers or perform tasks.

Other neat features includes an automatically connection to a Pixel phone’s data when there is no Wi-Fi hotspots available.

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Google Home

Besides the Pixelbook and its pen, Google has also two new additions to the Google Home device. These are the Google Home Mini and Google Home Max.

These devices of course come bundled with the Google Assistant and the Home Mini is designed to be sleek and smooth, with no corners or edges, and is about the size of a doughnut.

It is encased in a durable fabric in three colours (Chalk, Charcoal and Coral). Underneath the fabric LEDs light up when the Assistant hears someone. It projects 360-degree sound and comes with far-field microphones, so the Mini can hear even when music is playing or there is other background noise.

Google Clips

Audio wise, the Mini offers dual 4.5-inch high-excursion woofers for deep, balanced bass. Google Home Mini device costs just 49, and works on its own or in conjunction with other Google Home devices.

The Goole Max device is more powerful audio wise, and retails at $399. It also works with a wide range of music services and supports Bluetooth and an auxiliary port. The Max can be placed vertically or horizontally and comes in two colours, namely Chalk and Charcoal.

Amid these hardware announcements, it is also worth noting that Google has also introduced some interesting wireless earphones (Google Pixel Buds – £159) that seek to directly challenge Apple’s Airpods.

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